Steve Panton, ITIL v3
“The most rewarding aspect of my job has been removing the complexity of technology for my colleagues, so they can focus on what it is they do.”
In early 2020, as COVID-19 forced businesses around the globe to shift to remote work almost immediately and with no preparation, our own Steve Panton graciously guided Gannett Fleming employees through the new and unfamiliar virtual technology landscape. When he takes off his information technology (IT) hat, Steve, born and raised in Jamaica, enjoys time with his wife Sandra and three kids, traveling, and watching soccer.
We asked Steve a few questions. Get to know him here:
Tell us about your experience in the IT industry.
I have been in the IT field for over 20 years, working in a wide range of industries. Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to architect and implement IT solutions nationally and globally, enabling me to travel the world. The IT field is consistently changing, so it has been important for me to stay informed of the latest trends to ensure that the best technology solutions are available to streamline and improve my colleagues’ experiences.
Why Gannett Fleming?
About four years ago, during my interview, Kevin Switala, Gannett Fleming’s chief technology officer, shared about the organization’s culture, his vision for the organization, and the tenure of several members of his team. It was refreshing to learn that many individuals had been with Gannett Fleming for over ten years. I was drawn to Kevin’s leadership style, wanted to experience the culture, and saw the opportunity for my personal growth within his vision. By the end of the interview, I had a deep desire to be a member of the team that would lead the transformation of the firm’s IT infrastructure.
Tell us about your role and responsibilities.
I work in Gannett Fleming’s IT Services department, managing and supporting non-design/engineering communications and the collaboration platform portfolio, consisting of WebEx, Teams, ON24, Slido, Remo, Mural, and conference room hybrid technologies.
How does Gannett Fleming support your professional development and career growth?
I have been a part of the firm’s Connected Relationships™ Mentoring Program. My mentor has dedicated time to our sessions and recommended books and articles to help me grow as a supervisor. His mentorship has and will continue to steer my career to new heights.
What’s the most interesting project you’re working on right now?
We are retrofitting our conference rooms with video technology, creating effective spaces to support video calls with remote participants in each of our offices. We are also deploying systems that will allow us to utilize artificial intelligence to drive productivity improvements like transcription, search, and post-meeting follow-up features, thus making our spaces equitable for a hybrid workforce.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Removing the complexity of technology for my colleagues, so they can focus on what it is they do. During the pandemic, I have helped my colleagues adapt to new virtual technologies and increase their utilization of video conferencing technology, and their gratitude has been extremely rewarding.
What do you see for the next generation of employees at Gannett Fleming?
I see a healthy work-life balance; positive, respectful, flexible, and supportive managers; diverse team members; innovative technology; and meaningful work that will impact our communities and the world.
What’s one professional achievement of which you’re especially proud?
When I was a senior unified communications engineer at a global law firm, I led a small telecommunication team tasked with designing and managing the replacement of the firm’s disparate communication environment. Our team was lean but was expected to deliver big results. We ended up completing the redesign efficiently and on time, and everyone came away feeling valued and motivated. And the solution provided greater accessibility to our attorneys, correlating to more billable hours.
What leadership characteristics do you rely on the most for success in your job and life?
Being a good listener has allowed me to learn about others and understand their concerns, and being patient has helped me remain calm and focused during difficult moments.
Why is it important to have diversity around the table when working on projects?
Having diversity around the table adds value to a project. It also promotes innovation, enables quick problem-solving, and enhances employee productivity.
As you lead enterprise communications and collaboration technology here at Gannett Fleming, what are the most exciting advances and innovations ahead?
As our hybrid and remote work model drives enterprise communications and collaboration technology in 2022 and beyond, our team will continue to take an agile approach to developing solutions. We will note current requirements while also providing capabilities to manage any situations that may evolve.
What are your favorite hobbies?
I enjoy watching English Premier League soccer and traveling the world with my wife.
Let’s talk family!
I have been married for 23 years and have three kids. My 24-year-old daughter, Tatyana, is a graduate of Rutgers University; my 19-year-old daughter, Talia, majors in special education at Elizabeth City State University; and my son, PJ, just graduated from high school and will be attending Stevenson University in the fall to play soccer and major in cybersecurity.
What’s the best piece of personal advice you’ve ever received?
Carpe diem. Seize the day, and make your life extraordinary. I’ve taken this mindset to heart and have applied it to everything I do, including business.
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
I used to be a professional DJ and have worked in New York, New Jersey, Atlanta, and Jamaica. I also own my own DJ company.
If you could live in any city, where would it be and why?
I would live in Rome for its history and the ability to easily travel to other parts of Europe.
When did you emigrate from Jamaica, and what was it like transitioning to U.S. culture?
I emigrated to the U.S. in 1985 to live with my parents, who had migrated to this country years earlier for better opportunities. My transition to U.S. culture was difficult, and the school system enrolled me in speech therapy classes to suppress my accent. I learned that kids were not receptive to cultural differences and had a heavy focus on branded clothing. I was bullied and got into numerous altercations, but I eventually earned the respect of my classmates and excelled in my studies. I had the opportunity to participate in an honors program, various engineering programs, and The College of New Jersey Collegebound Program. Because of these opportunities, I am the first person on both sides of my family to have completed college, with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Phoenix and an MBA from Penn State Smeal College of Business.
What has being a Manchester United (Man United) Football Club fan taught you about persistence and commitment during challenging times?
These two characteristics are necessary to get through challenging times. Man United pulled off an incredible comeback against Bayern Munich in 1999, scoring twice at the end of the second half to secure a 2-1 victory. If that’s not persistence, I don’t know what is. I’ve also learned how important it is to be committed to the team rather than the individual. In every job, we need a team to reach our goals.